Hong Kong hopes free air tickets revive tourism as fiscal deficit soars

Since the border between China and Hong Kong reopened last month, tourism is creeping back to life, and the city has rolled out an aggressive campaign to attract visitors to stimulate its economy.

In January this year, nearly 500,000 people visited the city, three times higher than in December 2022.

Despite the jump in visitor numbers, arrivals are still only at 10 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, marking a sluggish start to its reopening.

The city has also spent more than US$76 billion on pandemic measures, including economic relief for businesses and residents.

With a huge bill racked up over the last three years, Hong Kong is under pressure to revive its sluggish economy and restore investor confidence.

Experts are projecting a deficit of close to US$20 billion this fiscal year, ahead of the city’s budget announcement on Wednesday.

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